There are various reasons that are quoted as the culprits behind becoming fat and increasing weight. Improper diet, lazy lifestyle, irregular exercise, mental stress and the list just continues.
And all discussion about becoming fat and increasing weight ends up revolving around the bad cholesterol that builds in our body making us fat. But does cholesterol really make us fat?
Everybody these days, including physicians and well qualified researchers has talked about how necessary it is to reduce the cholesterol in our body to reduce weight.
But looking in depth at how cholesterol works in our body gives a different explanation.
Native Function of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is the waxy substance present in the cells of our body. Its primitive function is to line the arteries to protect them against lesions and damages during the blood circulation process.
It also heals any damages and lesions that have occurred in the arteries.
When there is any kind of damage to the artery, our body sends cholesterol towards it to heal the lesion and reduce any further damage.
When there is inflammation in the blood vessels it causes lesions. The body then reacts to this inflammation and sends cholesterol to the arteries to heal and protect them from further damage.
A higher amount of cholesterol deposition in the arteries implies higher level of inflammation in the blood vessels. Hence while it is cholesterol that leads to artery blockage, the root of the problem is the inflammation causing its accumulation.
Are Fats Good or Are They Bad?
Understanding the role cholesterol plays in preserving our health brings us back to the question – are fats good or are they bad?
To understand the answer to this question, it is essential to understand that not all fats are the same. There are different types of fats that produce different effects in our body.
Types Of Fats
There are two main types of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Most foods we eat contain both these fats in them, though one is present in higher proportion that the other.
Saturated fat is also referred to as “solid fat” since it stays in a solid state at room temperature. It is found mostly in animal products – milk, cheese and meat.
It is also found in tropical oils such as coconut oil and palm oil. Hence food cooked in these oils or even in butter has high saturated fat content.
Unsaturated fats on the other hand is the liquid fat since it stays in liquid form at room temperature. It is found mostly in plant and vegetable oils.
There are two types of unsaturated fats as well – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
While these terms are not commonly understood by many of us, we have definitely heard of Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids.
There is a third category of fats that is not naturally occurring. It is created by the processing of the saturated fats to increase their shelf life by making them harder at room temperature. This fat is referred to as trans-fat and it is created by hydrogenation of the saturated fats.
Fats That Are Good For Our Body
From the health perspective, the cholesterol that is considered bad for the health comes from saturated fats. However, it is to be noted that naturally occurring saturated fats are not bad for our health.
It is the processed trans-fats found in processed foods, snacks etc. which causes damage to the body.
Similarly not all unsaturated fats are good. Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids are both polyunsaturated fats.
While Omega-3 fatty acid is highly beneficial for improving the heart health, Omega-6 fatty acid produces the bad cholesterol that cause inflammation of the arteries leading to higher cholesterol accumulation.
Hence it is advisable to include the unsaturated and naturally occurring saturated fats in our diet to improve heart health.
Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and staying away from omega-6 fatty acids and trans-fats can help deal with the inflammation that is making you fat.
Benefits Of Fats For Our Body
Fats are essential to provide the energy for the body. They act as the reservoirs of energy during situations when our body is starved and is unable to gain energy from the carbohydrates being consumed. Each gram of fats has 9 calories.
Apart from providing energy, fats are also essential for our body to absorb the vitamins present in our food. Vitamin A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins and hence our body require fats to dissolve and absorb these vitamins.
It is also essential for production of certain types of hormones. Fats form an essential component of cell membrane as well.
How To Naturally Control Inflammation That’s Making You Fat?
The inflammation in the blood vessels that leads to cholesterol accumulation can be controlled by consuming the good fats and avoiding consumption of the bad fats. There are some other natural foods that help reduce inflammation.
Cod Liver Oil
An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid, cod liver oil is found to greatly reduce the bad cholesterol in the body. It increases the good cholesterol which is essential for proper functioning and good health.
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon is considered to be very effective in reducing the bad cholesterol levels due to its richness in tannin, cinnamaldehyde, mannitol etc.
It is found that consuming half a spoon of cinnamon powder everyday may reduce the cholesterol and triglyceride levels by almost 20%
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and is rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants avoid the oxidation in cells including arteries keeping them healthy and young.
Hence vitamin C is found to improve the heart health.
The understanding and perception about cholesterol has led to such levels of emphasis on it that the real cause behind deteriorating heart health – inflammation, remained undiscussed.
Understanding how inflammation makes one fat and slowly pushes one closer towards death can help us control it and deal with it in better ways.